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Senate to probe ‘Bikoy’ claims this week

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Tuesday, May 7th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – A Senate panel is set to conduct a hearing this week to probe the allegations of Peter Joemel Advincula, who is claiming to be ‘Bikoy’ in the video series entitled “Ang Totoong Narco list,” which linked some members of the Duterte family and their allies to the narcotics trade.

Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs chairman Panfilo “Ping” Lacson on Tuesday said in a text message the hearing will take place on Friday, May 10 at 9:30 a.m.

He added that the formal invitation to Advincula will be sent out through the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) since it was the last place where he was seen.

“The committee is sending out today a formal invitation letter to Advincula thru the IBP since it was the last known link to him and they may have knowledge of how to relay the invitation to him,” Lacson said.

Advincula on Monday surfaced at the IBP to seek legal assistance to file charges against presidential son Paolo Duterte, former Special Assistant to the President and Senatorial candidate Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, and Lawyer Manases Carpio, the husband of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.

He also cited threats against his life as one of his reasons for surfacing.

READ: Man claiming to be Bikoy asks help from IBP

The senator also wrote on his Twitter account that his panel will be looking into the issue surrounding the “Ang Totoong Narco list” since it has become a political issue.

However, Lacson said Advincula must personally present a sworn statement and evidence to back his claims in order for the hearing to push through.

“Like it or not, Bikoy has become a political, if not an election issue. The Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs can schedule a hearing this week on one condition: Bikoy must personally present a sworn statement and his evidence to support his accusations,” he said.

Lacson said the scheduled hearing on Friday will proceed if ‘Bikoy’ accepts their invitation and presents his sworn statement.

“It will push through once Bikoy confirms his attendance with a sworn statement ready. In the meantime, we are doing some background investigation and record check on him,” he said.

READ: NBI to summon man claiming to be ‘Bikoy’

READ: PNP to probe ‘Bikoy’ narco videos

The Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation earlier said a probe has been launched on the people behind the Bikoy’ narco videos and are now validating if Advincula is the same hooded figure in the clips. (with details from Nel Maribojoc)

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Attention space geeks: Senate OKs bill creating the Philippine Space Agency

by Aileen Cerrudo   |   Posted on Monday, May 20th, 2019

Courtesy : Pexels

The senate has approved on third and final reading a bill seeking to establish a Philippine Space Agency.

On Monday (May 20), the Senate voted 18-0 in favor of Senate Bill No. 1983 or an Act Establishing the Philippine Space Development and Utilization Policy and Creating the Philippine Space Agency.

The bill was introduced by Senator Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV, Vicente Sotto III, Loren Legarda, and Sonny Angara.

According to Senator Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV, the bill aims to improve disaster management as well as enhance production and profitability of agribusinesses.

“Satellites can improve disaster management from providing accurate information that allows early warnings and predicting of disasters to reliable and quick communication during relief and recovery operations,” Aquino said in his sponsorship speech.

Once the law is passed, the new agency will have an initial funding of P1 billion for the space program from the current fiscal year’s appropriation of the Office of the President.

“An additional P10 billion will come from the gross income of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) and the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) for five years after the effectivity of the act, with P2 billion to be released to PhilSA yearly,” the statement said.

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Senate okays shorter workweek bill

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Monday, May 20th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Voting 17-0, the Senate approved on Monday (May 20) a bill allowing Filipino employees to render services with shorter workweek arrangement.

Filed by Senator Joel Villanueva, the proposed measure on compressed workweek arrangement allows employees to opt out of the regular eight-hours-five-days-per-week schedule.

Instead, employees may choose to enter into an agreement with the employers as long as it is a “mutually agreed voluntary work arrangement”.

Specifically, employees may prefer to work for a fewer number of days in a week but with longer hours as long as they meet the required workweek load of 40 hours, although the law upholds the 48-hour work limit per week.

Even with the a mutually agreed work schedule, employees will still be entitled to the existing company benefits.

With Senate approving the bill, it is now for submission to the Office of the President for signing to be enacted into law. – Marje Pelayo

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Congress resumes sessions, to tackle priority bills

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Monday, May 20th, 2019

Courtesy : HOR Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate and the House of Representatives are set resume their sessions today in a bid to pass several priority bills before the 17th Congress formally adjourns in three weeks.

The sessions will resume on Monday at three in the afternoon.

But before the plenary session begins in the Senate, majority of senators will first meet for a caucus called by Senate President Vicente Sotto III to finalize the legislative agenda of the upper chamber.

Sotto said that among the priorities that the Senate is looking to approve before the 17th congress adjourns on June 7 is the proposed amendments to the Human Security Act.

Sotto is referring to the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2019, which seeks to amend the Republic Act No. 9372 by redefining the acts of terrorism that are punishable by law and strengthening its provisions to deter terror groups.

The Senate will also try to finish tackling the proposed amendments to the Public Service Act. The bill seeks to amend Commonwealth Act No. 146 to address the confusion in the definition of a public utility and public services in order to provide Filipino consumers with more choices, better services and lower prices on utility services.

The measure is pending on second reading.

Sotto also expressed hope that the Medical Scholarship Act, which he authored, would be given equal priority before the sessions adjourn.

The bill seeks to address the issues of scarcity and unequal distribution of physicians in the country through the granting of scholarships to deserving medical students, provided that they would serve the country for five years.

The proposed measure is currently pending in the Senate committee on health and demography chaired by Senator JV Ejercito.

Other measures that the Senate is expected to discuss are the Budget Reform Act, Foreign Investment Act and the proposed granting of emergency powers to President Rodrigo Duterte to address transportation woes in the country.

The lower House, for its part, is looking to approve more pro-people bills in the tight three-week schedule.

House Majority Leader Rep. Fredenil Castro said that among the bills they will tackle are the proposed Strengthening Drug Prevention and Control Act and the creation of Overseas Filipino Workers Sovereign Fund.

The Congress has nine session days before the sine die adjournment of 17th Congress. (with details from Nel Maribojoc)

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